Athol Williams recently wrote about the power of children seeing themselves (or not) in books. As communities who can be classified as under-resourced, the gift of reading is often under developed simply because of a lack of access.
This week, The Lounge had the pleasure of paying a visit to Radical Books Namibia, described as transformative among an assembly line of politically correct adjectives such as pro-poor, pro-change, pro-truth and pro-justice. Situated on no 40 Schonlein Street in Windhoek-West, the store is a treasure trove of books written by more 150 authors from Namibia and beyond. Exclusively by African writers like A Shiimi yaShiimi, famed Namibian lawyer Sisa Namandje, self-help guru Sesilia Nekwaya, Prince Mashele & Mzukisi Qobo, African giant Chinua Achebe and Peter Ekandjo.
What caught us unawares was the passion of the two people manning the store! Asnath Tjozongoro and Phillimon Ashivudhi are very enthusiastic young people who believe in the purpose of the store, which is to empower young Namibian authors by providing a landing space where their writing is accepted and shelf space always available for our works of passion.
The store is hidden away in a beautiful alcove and the smell of books engulfs you as you walk in, immediately transporting you into that magical world of books and literature.
Frequently a question is raised as to whether the culture of reading has died in our societies, especially among young people and why a bookstore would be important in the Internet age. The argument can be made that yes, young people do read albeit on their phones and have their noses buried in online magazines and web pages at all times. But is that really reading? And how does what you read impact you or your environment ? Does it matter when what you are reading does not do much for your intellectual ability and growth? Furthermore, how does it help to shape your thinking and reasoning ability when what you are reading is not broadening your established paradigms or challenge your worldview ?
That is what Radical Books aims to achieve. It aims to be a place where learning and growth can happen, where propaganda’s are squelched and challenged, where the desire to know more about indigenous languages and cultures are sparked. A place where, as you look at every book cover you can be encouraged that your dreams too are possible, that you need not live in fear, that you too can pen your dreams, your aspirations, your experiences and that your name too can appear on a myriad of covers and your words read by millions.
The bookstore is the brain-child of Job Amupanda and Henry Shimutwikeni. According to Amupanda, the purpose of opening this bookstore was to bridge the gap between what is taught in history books and the reality of what actually occurred to people but whose voices may otherwise not have been readily heard. As a thinker, Amupanda is passionate about the mind of the young person and encourages free thinking and having your dreams become a reality.
Do yourself a favour, there are some amazing biographies and stories just waiting to be picked up from those shelves, longing to be read and understood, devoured and encouraging.
A thumbs up to this wonderful store!